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By Dragoness Eclectic



The only sound was the creak of the steering oar as the great black boat floated down the dark waters of the Stygian Nile. Her single black squaresail was furled; no breath of wind disturbed the river of the underworld. The shadow-cloaked steersman leaned but lightly against the oar; this stretch of the Twelve Hours of Night was calm and gently flowing. His sole passenger, the crown prince of an ancient dynasty, lounged against the gunwale, affecting a air of complete boredom while watching and listening, alert to everything around him.

"Hmmm.. that's interesting," the Ferryman observed. Mighty thews flexed as the dark boatman swung the steering oar over.

The prince dropped his air of boredom. Anything that interested the Ferryman, interested him. "What now?"

"A new ghost in the Fourth Hour. He's hailing me for a pickup, too. Hmmph. Probably trying to avoid being eaten by those krjalk demi-gods that barbecue sinners along this stretch. Well, I'm not exactly on a regular schedule right now, so..."

"What is so interesting about a new ghost in the underworld? Have people suddenly stopped dying since I left Earth?"

"Hmmph. They stopped coming to *this* underworld about two thousand years ago--since anyone last followed the gods of ancient Khem, or Egypt as you foriegners call it. Noble, too, by the look of him." The Ferryman bared sharp teeth and tusks in his version of a smirk.

The black boat's prow bumped gently against the bank; the ghost floundered awkwardly aboard. He wore tattered yellow robes and the charred remnants of a leopardskin cape; he had the high features and sharp nose that the prince had seen adorning every royal scuplture and tomb painting along the Twelve Hours. Unlike those impassive sculptures, this face was set in a scowl, and angry frustration flashed in his dark eyes. Something howled in the darkness beyond, and the Ferryman quickly sculled his boat off the bank, back into the current.

"Took you long enough," the ghost snarled. "They nearly had me. Damn them all!"

The Ferryman answered mildly, "Patience, they say, is a virtue. It serves me well enough. It is also said that beggars can't be choosers, and I think not that kindly Ra would have offered you a place on his barge. The stench of evil is on you, and methinks you avoid the Devourer only because Anubis cannot find one improperly laid to rest."

The ghost glared at the Ferryman, and at his only other passenger. The dead prince regarded him calmly, thoughtfully. "The good Ferryman tells me that none have come to this underworld in over two millenia. Who are you, and why are you here now?"

"Only Osiris may know my True Name, and I come here after five thousand years--I, who was a prince of Khem, Adept of Thoth, immortal, undying, master of spirits--I am brought low by the ignoble whelps of a bestial race." His face was terrible to see. "I know their names, and the names of their fathers, and from the Abyss I will curse them as only the dead can curse-- Such woe and grief will I bring on Gohan, son of Goku; Trunks, son of Vegeta; Bulma, consort of Vegeta and mother of Trunks; and Raditz, brother of Goku, that they will beg for death and curse the day of their birth. I will bring upon them--"

"--Will you? I think not!" cried Prince Vegeta, as his hair turned to flaming gold.


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Copyright 2000 by Dragoness Eclectic